How do I choose which networking to attend?

Recently, I was talking to a new member about other networking that was available. He was surprised that I would recommend other networking events, so I explained my theory for a robust networking strategy.

He asked, “How do I know if they are right for me?”

I work on a questioning process:

Do the times of the event work for you?

Do you do work or hope to do work in the area the event is held?

The next part of the assessment happens when you attend the event: How do you feel? I’m a great believer in gut reaction; I think that this reaction is based on our brain drawing from previous experience and comparing it with the current situation. The fact that this process is made in nanoseconds makes people doubt it. My advice? Don’t ignore your gut.

Now you have attended an event and your gut is happy, time for your brain to take over. Consider if you like the format; some people like structure, some don’t. But if you are attending a variety of events, you will experience different structures. Your next thing to think about: are there people in attendance from businesses which have synergy with your business? Talk to them. Then are there people you like the look of? This is not a dating event, but when I attend an event I am attracted to people who are dressed professionally and look interested in being there. I think they are people I would find it easier to work with and get work for.

If you don’t like an event, ask yourself why. Use your brain to analyse why you didn’t like it. If it was the people, don’t attend for a few months and then try again; you’ll almost certainly find new people attending. If there is a committee that leads the event, it might have changed – the organiser may have moved on. Don’t just give up after one attendance. If you don’t like the format, work out how you can make the most of your time there, within the format.

And remember to have fun.

Want my top 20 networking tips? Sign up here.

5 steps to reputation marketing success

The ebn network is full of people who know their ‘stuff’.  To add value, I’m asking a few willing victims volunteers to share some of their wisdom.  The first – er – volunteer is Lesley Morrissey of Inside News.  Asking her was a no-brainer – she’s a writer, so writing a blog was like falling off a (b)log – and she’s given me tons of useful advice about her area of expertise.  Read and enjoy!  Glenys

Over the years many of my clients have come to me for a specific job – like writing a website or managing their Twitter account – but, when asked, they can’t tell me who I’m writing for.

I get on my soapbox about knowing your ideal client – a lot – so here are my 5 steps that I think EVERY business owner should work through and revisit regularly.

  1. Who do you want as clients/customers?

This needs to be as specific as possible.  So it’s no good saying ‘accountants’, because there are big, multi-practice accountants, smaller practices with a handful of staff, specialists in taxation, one-man (or woman) bands who work from home – and that’s just a few.  Which one is your perfect client – because they’re all different, with different issues, worries, problems and needs?

  • Why you?

What have you got to offer that’s different or better than your competitors?  What makes you unique?  What issues can you resolve for your ideal client?  What do your current clients rave about?  Don’t guess – ask them.  What are the measurable benefits of what you do?

  • Where are your prospects hanging out?

A blanket approach to marketing probably isn’t going to work, so you need to think about where your target market are active.  Are they on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube?  What groups do they contribute to?  What publications do they read?  Which networking groups do they attend?

  • Develop your strategy

Get your brand and identity sorted.  That means your logo, strapline, font styles, colour references, headshot, banners, etc.  If you don’t have a brand guide – you should – and make sure everyone in your organisation uses it properly.

What activities will you engage in to establish a top flight reputation in your industry?  Blogging, social media (which ones?), List building, lead magnets, newsletters, email campaigns, direct mail, advertising, networking (where), etc.?

  • Means, manpower and measurement

Who does what, how often, where and how?  How will you check progress?  What are your measurement parameters?  How much time needs to be invested – daily, weekly, monthly?  Who is responsible for managing the project?  Who else will be involved?  How often will you review and revise the plan?

This is the basic steps of a good reputation marketing plan – and the first three steps are important not only for marketing but will make a positive impact on the whole business plan. 

Lesley Morrissey is a copywriter, consultant, and reputation marketing expert.  Raid her Treasure Chest at www.insidenews.co.uk.

How to make online networking work

Well, aren’t we living in interesting times? People keep talking about the new normal: have we reached it, is this just a different normal, will our old normal return? It’s disquieting and perhaps even a little exciting. Nothing is as it was and many of us are having to rethink our businesses.

My business is networking, this was always a massive part of my marketing plan whatever business I have owned and now it is the thing I do.

I have always had a networking strategy, part of the larger marketing strategy: a set of rules, things to do, how to do things and when. Networking has always involved face-to-face meetings, often including a coffee and a sticky bun, and now this method is on hold. If you want to see that strategy go to:  https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=26

Rather than look at what I used to do I sat down and looked at the new rules, how do we adapt to this different world of networking?

These are my takes on the original rules – and what today’s version is:

  1. Wear a name badge so people don’t have to try and remember these details rather than concentrating on what you are saying.  Now: Put your name on the screen, and your business name, if space is available (TIP: if you have a pop up banner, place it behind you.)
  2. Turn up on time, That hasn’t changed…and you can’t blame traffic!
  3. Arrange 1-2-1s,  The only difference is you each provide your own drink and sticky bun.
  4. Show respect to the meeting…don’t mess around! No dogs on desks, don’t keep changing your background, don’t take telephone calls (and if you have to, then mute yourself) This is still a business meeting.
  5. Dress appropriately…even if it’s only from the waist up.
  6. Agree to use of your business details.  Instead of exchanging business cards, connect on Linkedin (although you should do that anyway).
  7. Allow others to talk.  If you can’t resist, mute yourself.

One thing that will never change is the need to work together to grow all our businesses. More information about mine is at: ebn.uk.com and it include networking tips to sign up for Let me know if I can help you or your business in any way.

Virtually surround yourself with positive people.

These are challenging times for everyone, whether you own a business, work for someone, are self-isolating or because you are worrying about you, yours, or your community. The COVID-19 virus  is undermining our society at a very basic level, and there are many of us who face a very real risk.

One of my rules for life is to surround myself with positive people. I find they help me with the various challenges, be they personal or with my business. My initial thought when the ban of meetings was announced was “Aaarrrgghh!” My business is all based on face-to-face meetings and it won’t come as any surprise when I say that I fundamentally believe in meeting people face-to-face.

However, I was amazed at the positive reaction I received from members when we made all our meetings virtual.  This is a temporary measure, and we will return to the old format when all this malarkey is over, but for now we meet using Zoom (other systems are available) each sat in our homes and offices. Looking smart—at least from the waist up—and sharing support, knowledge and information. In fact, all the things that we gain at our usual meetings. But this way we stay safe and well and in touch with other businesses. Since we work under the Chatham House rule (what is said at a meeting can be told to others, but not who said it) and those people who are still choosing to visit can talk about their concerns. At the meetings I have attended in the past week people have also, I have noticed, shared personal concerns as well as business concerns.

I have also noticed that some, after the initial aaarrggghh moment, day or few days, have started to look at other options for doing what they already do, or at how they might do things completely differently, and some have already given up. Now, before anyone takes offence at that last sentence let me say that I know that some businesses will not survive. However, my belief is that if you try, desperately sometimes, to find the positive, however small that is, that helps. It also helps if the people around me are looking for the small positive too. It also means that when we each reach that aarrgghh moment again the positive people around are supportive and helpful and when it is their turn I can reciprocate.

I hope you and yours are safe and well. If I can help in any way let me know how and, if you want more information, or some more networking tips, have a look at my website: ebn.uk.com.

Selling through the room

I was talking to a contact recently and used the phrase “Selling through the room”  They said they did not know what this meant. I realised that, in any industry, we use jargon that we assume others understand, and I had just fallen into that trap.

I have a belief that responsibility for successful communication is with the person doing the communicating.  I had used “selling…” phrase before and have assumed that the person I was talking to understood the jargon. So, in the past week, I have reviewed all my presentations on networking, my blogs, my postings and the notes I use when having a 1-2-1.  I have made a commitment to taking jargon out of my communication, or at least not assuming everyone understands the jargon being used.

Someone happy to ask the question “What does that mean?” has really helped me to improve my communication.

And, by the way, the phrase “Selling through the room” means doing business with the contacts of people you meet, not necessarily the contact themselves.

How do you deal with jargon?

More networking tips on: www.ebn.uk.com

Three stages of networking

I do a lot of networking and I treat each event as a business meeting, and I always prepare for business meetings.  At each event there is the possibility that I will meet the best contact I have ever met, and that’s what excites me about networking.

Here are three stages I use:

The first stage is prior to the event: when I accept an invitation to an event, I book some extra time after the event into my diary, so I don’t have to rush off. If there is s delegates list I look through and see if there is anyone I would like to take more time to talk to and I will contact them and ask if they would like a 1-2-1 after the event.

If there isn’t anyone who I want a 1-2-1 with at that time, then I can just spend more time with people at the event.

Stage two is at the meeting. I use my 3/3/3 rule (See  https://blog.ebn.uk.com/blog/the-3-3-3-rule/)

After the meeting I move into stage three, I continue to develop the relationships with people I have met at the event. First, I email everyone who’s card I have and thank them for their time, ask did they find the event productive, send them any information I have agreed to send them, sometimes this is information about one of our Groups, sometimes information about the ad-hoc networking events we arrange that are not part of our core business.  (I always ask someone when they give me their card if they are OK with me sending them information) Occasionally I will suggest a 1-2-1.

Whatever the email says I always make contact after any event, and yes it takes time, but since the point of networking is starting and developing relationships, it seems obvious to me that this is part of successful networking.

What do you think?

If you would like more networking tips, go to:  https://blog.ebn.uk.com/tips-on-networking.html

The more the merrier?

My business is business networking, we have Groups who meet every two weeks and there is membership. We also have a maximum number in Groups of 25 and our Groups start small and grow organically to that number. When people contact me about visiting a Group one of the questions I am often asked is “How many are in the Group?” To me this is based on the idea that the more people you have in a room the more chances there are of getting business. That has never been my experience.

I have been to networking events of over 600 people and a) You could not hear yourself think b) It was all sell, sell, sell and c) I did some great networking with the small group of people who sought peace in the bar.

My Groups are small, start small and remain under 25, and we do have a waiting list so I could choose to get more into some of our Groups. Why this decision? When I network I want to meet people who are there to build relationship, share knowledge, give support and then, when there is a strong mutual trust, refer people. The important part of this is building relationships, and I think this is best done, at any one time, with a small number of people.

As a business owner, it could be argued, that I should want to get really large Groups and make the most money. I disagree. I want my members to get the most from the business networking they do in their Groups and from the membership they pay. Within any one of my Groups there is a ‘Feel’ almost impossible to pin down but based on a mutual support of each other and on the strong relationships that have been developed. So, what I want for the members in my Groups are not just numbers of people there but of people who understand that building relationships is the most important thing about business networking. This is not a numbers game.

What do you think?

Have fun.

More info or networking tips? www.ebn.uk.com

Why bother with business cards?

I recently met someone at a business networking event who said “I don’t have any business cards, because I think they are a waste of money” he went on to explain that people tended to remember him and, if they wanted to know anything about his business, they would find him if they searched online. I was amazed. My business is business networking and so that’s what I do. In a working week I can meet perhaps a couple of hundred people and whilst each person I meet is memorable in some way, I’m human so  people I haven’t met before can be forgotten or I can misremember the name of their company. When making contact with them after the event it is the business card that is vital Why? Because I look at their business online, look them up on Linkedin and connect*, and then make appropriate contact by email. Appropriate? Some people may have asked to attend one of my meetings, others have asked to be invited to our corporate events, and some I have already met, and we are along the road of building a strong working relationship.

Anyway, back to the business cards. I know that these days people have various ways of collecting information electronically from the business cards of people they meet. That is great, but there needs to be a business card to collect the information from. So my advice to people who don’t have business cards, or people who just have a telephone number on theirs? Accept that we are all fabulous and all forgettable and help others help you and your business by having a business card, it won’t be a waste of money. Honest.

Thoughts?

*Recently told about ‘Find nearby’ on Linkedin If you, and the person you are talking to, both have the Linkedin app on your phones: both open them, tap the My Network tab. Tap Find nearby at the top of the screen. Genius!

More info or networking tips? www.ebn.uk.com

Why should you invite people to networking events?

As the owner of a membership business networking company it could be said that, of course I want members to bring along people who might become members, and that is true. So why should members do this? As a networker we all want to be the person who people come to when they need some product or service, someone who people see as someone who knows people. Why? Because if someone asks me if I know a plumber, they are also going to ask me about my networking if they decide they want to review the networking they do. I recommend all types of networking to all types of people and, while I hope they will choose my company when they decide on a membership type of commitment, I accept that my type of networking, relaxed, informal, but business-focussed with no pressure, is not for everyone. Some people need a formal style and pressure, while others need a less structured approach, to get the most from their networking.

One of my Group Directors (GDs) told me that, when they network outside of ebn, they talk very briefly about their own business and ask instead “What other networking do you do?” This means they get to hear of other networking which they might not know about, and also means that they can talk about ebn and offer an invitation. Why should they do this? Because if the invitation is accepted and the visitor attends, the GD can then talk about their business as part of the meeting and surrounded by people who have used their services and who can recommend them. Since it is always better for others to say good things about your business, rather than you (The “You would say that wouldn’t you” syndrome) the trust is build a little quicker.

Another reason why we should all invite people to good networking events is that this helps build the relationship. If you tell me about an event, I attend and have a productive time there, I think more highly of you, the business relationship becomes stronger and who knows where that might lead for both of our businesses. If we attend a network event together we might spend some time together, particularly if this is a relatively new business relationship, but we shouldn’t stay together. We are there to meet others. It might be that I introduce you to someone with whom there might be a synergy between your businesses. If we find we have lots more to say then we should arrange a date to have a coffee sometime. 

So invite people to good networking events, the organisers will thank you (another benefit) and so might the person you invite.

If you want more networking tips go to: https://blog.ebn.uk.com/tips-on-networking.html

Have fun.

What is networking all about?

 

Networking is a means of meeting people and building relationships. Once relationships are strong then work will flow, but remember it is not about what work can be done between the people in front of you…that is probably very little. However none of us live in a bubble, we all know people and we all have customers. It is about who do we know, who do they know, and what work can flow from these connections. That’s what makes networking exciting; as you walk into a networking event you could meet someone who could change your life by the amount of business they give you.

So, is it just about getting business? No it’s not. I believe that ultimately that is what we network for but what we may find:

  • Confidence:  the more you do it the easier it should get, because you will hone your skills and each type of group allows you to hone different skills.
  • Skills:  how to talk to people about your business. Each event will provide different ways of telling people about your business, but in my experience all events include “open networking”.
  • Meeting people who have a wealth of experience in their field. In my experience people are generous with their knowledge. The challenge is always to learn, whilst not expecting people to endlessly give for free. I have found the more referrals I have given the more people are prepared to share their knowledge.
  • A network of people who do things. So if you, or one of your customers or friends, needs a plumber for example,  you will know one. Or you will know someone who knows one, and just think if  you help potential or existing customers  source suppliers what happens when they need what you do? They come to you.
  • Friends. Over the years I have made many friends through networking and attended some good social events…but that is not why I network. Networking is ultimately about getting work.

If you want more networking tips go to: https://blog.ebn.uk.com/tips-on-networking.html

Have fun.